More than 750 million GMO mosquitoes to be released over Florida Keys – what could go wrong?
Monday, August 24, 2020 by: Ethan Huff
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) has given Oxitec, a corporation we have reported on in the past, permission to unleash some 750 million GMO mosquitos in Monroe County, Florida, over the next two years.
This “trial,” as they are calling it, will commence at some point in 2021, despite objections from more than 2,000 Florida residents who wrote in to oppose the proposition prior to its approval.
Many locals had petitioned for a referendum to decide whether or not to proceed with what Jaydee Hanson, policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and Center for Food Safety, described as a “Jurassic Park experiment.”
Back in 2016, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed GMO mosquito trial over Key Haven. This time, voters are not being given a voice at all, and neither Oxitec nor the FKMCD has indicated where this latest batch of GMO mosquitoes will even be released.
“With all the urgent crises facing our nation and the State of Florida – the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, climate change – the administration has used tax dollars and government resources” to release GMO mosquitoes over Florida, Hanson warned in a statement.
EPA did not even look at potential risks, nor did it calculate environmental impact
Financially backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Oxitec has been experimenting with GMO mosquitoes for years, which it claims may help to eradicate mosquito populations in places like Africa where they are said to be spreading malaria.
Oxitec has attempted to conduct trials outside of America, where restrictions are generally looser. But now it has permission to release GMO mosquitoes right here in America, a first with completely unknown implications.
“What could possibly go wrong? We don’t know because EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) unlawfully refused to seriously analyze environmental risks, now without further review of the risks, the experiment can proceed,” Hanson adds.
Barry Wray, Executive Direct of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, is similarly perturbed and demanding a remedy. He warned at a recent meeting that the FKMCD has “an obligation to our community, not a vendor that’s products are risky and untrustworthy.”
Many members of the local community have urged the FKMCD to reject Oxitec’s field trial application, noting a dearth of relevant data that in any way suggests the trial will be safe or effective. But thus far they have made minimal headway.
“The release of genetically engineered mosquitoes will needlessly put Floridians, the environment and endangered species at risk in the midst of a pandemic,” says Dana Perls, food and technology Program Manager at Friends of the Earth.
“This approval is about maximizing Oxitec’s profits, not about the pressing need to address mosquito-borne diseases.”
Ed Russo, President of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, agrees, noting that the FKMCD does not have the resources to properly manage this process.
“Why have they not acquired the appropriate amount of insurance as well as performance and maintenance bonds?” he asked at the meeting.
“Their evasive answers and lack of management skills are an indictment of their unprofessionalism and arrogance which speaks loudly of an unprepared regulatory process.”
One of the biggest threats is that the GMO mosquitoes will breed and create hybrid wild mosquitoes that end up worsening the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. These GMO mosquitoes may also end up becoming more resistant to insecticides than wild mosquitoes.
There is further evidence to suggest that biting females will be released, despite objections from Oxitec that this will not happen. These biting females would put humans at risk of attack and infection, without their informed consent.
For more related news about untested GMOs being released into the wild, be sure to check out GMO.news.
Sources for this article include:
The timing of this could not be more questionable. If this happens, lines will be blurred on yet another confounding factor in relation to COVID-19. ‘Authorities’ will only be too happy to blame any and all negative outcomes on COVID and NOT on released GMO mosquitoes – which again is another experiment with an unknown outcome.
Another point to stress is that the CRISPR gene-editing technology (tinkering with genes) has been shown to create unintended mutations. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/06/13/crispr-gene-editing-dangers.aspx? This article shows 100 deletions and insertions and more than 1,500 unintended single-nucleotide mutations occurred .
Geneticist and virologist Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project and editor of Independent Science News, has spoken out about the fallacy of industry talking points in the past.
“So far, it is technically not possible to make a single (and only a single) genetic change to a genome using CRISPR and be sure one has done so,” Latham reportedly explained. This feat may not even be possible biologically; one small change to genome can inevitably lead to a host of other, unanticipated changes. https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-06-14-scientists-warn-genetic-editing-of-humans-with-crispr-technology-may-lead-to-cancer.html#
In fact, experts say that CRISPR could cause hundreds of unintended DNA alterations.
Go here to watch a short 2 min video: What is CRISPR https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/06/13/crispr-gene-editing-dangers.aspx? While it all seems neat and tidy on paper and in a cool colored video, what happens in the wild could be an entirely different matter.
Even the European union has ruled that CRISPR plants are GMO’s and should be subjected to the same rules: https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/611716/in-blow-to-new-tech-europe-court-decides-crispr-plants-are-gmos/
“It means for all the new inventions … you would need to go through the lengthy approval process of the European Union,” Kai Purnhagen, an expert at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, told Nature.
This article states CRISPR has the potential to cause cancer in a whole generation of humans: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-06-14-scientists-warn-genetic-editing-of-humans-with-crispr-technology-may-lead-to-cancer.html# (Excerpt below)
Emma Haapaniemi, a co-author of the Karolinska Institute study, explained why this is such a concerning find.
“By picking cells that have successfully repaired the damaged gene we intended to fix, we might inadvertently also pick cells without functional p53.” Dysfunctional p53 is a major cancer risk; nearly half of ovarian and colorectal cancers can be connected to a disruption in p53. Many other types of cancer, like lung, pancreatic, stomach, liver and breast cancers, can also be attributed to p53 problems.
“If transplanted into a patient, as in gene therapy for inherited diseases, such cells could give rise to cancer, raising concerns for the safety of CRISPR-based gene therapies,” Haapaniemi added.
Besides the unintended consequences of mutations and cancer in humans, is the issue of ethics. Here’s some telling quotes: https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2015/12/28/frankinbugs/
“It is essential that national regulatory authorities and international organizations get on top of this — really get on top of it,” says Kenneth Oye, a political scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lead author of the Science commentary. “We need more action.” The US National Research Council has formed a panel to discuss gene drives, and other high-level discussions are starting to take place, but Oye is concerned that regulatory changes may happen only after a high-profile gene-drive release, in other words, after it’s too late. (For a five minute audio of reporter Kerri Smith investigating the meteoric rise of CRISPR click on the link above.
On top of those difficulties, scientists do not know how all of this will affect ecosystems and are unclear if the gene drives could spread to closely related species.
Noam Prywes, PhD candidate in chemistry at Harvard, claims that CRISPR/Cas-9-based gene drives will
“add a twist – introducing one gene drive after another to correct unforeseen consequences as they are discovered,” and that “decisions by researchers would become permanently written into the genomes of entire wild populations.” He also adds that there are alternative ways to wipe out local populations of mosquitoes carrying disease that are much safer.
In this same vein, David Burwitz of Tel Aviv University, feels that gene drive research should be classified to prevent weapon development, and he’s not alone. http://nextstageprep.com/gene-drivesthis-next-weapon-mass-destruction/ In theory, a terrorist could create a handful of insects with a gene for making a toxin, and power it with a gene drive. Pretty soon, all of these insects would make the toxin, and every insect bite would be lethal. However, according to Austin Burt, who proposed the theoretical method for making gene drives, the gene drives only work in sexually reproducing species, unlike the vast majority of genetically engineered microbes which produce asexually and they’ve only been shown to work for one generation – so far.